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Our Story

Story #1 - Chester and Gladys Tollefson of Anoka

The seeds for Rise were sown by Chester and Gladys Tollefson of Anoka, whose son Loring was born in 1955 with intellectual disabilities. Chet wondered, "Wouldn't it be great if...?!"

Wouldn't it be great if Loring could go to work when he was finished with public schooling? Wouldn't it be great if others like him in this area could experience how good it feels to put in an honest day's labor and earn an honest day's pay? Wouldn't it be great if the services and programs were in place to help people like Loring reach their own personal potential and become active, contributing members of this community?

Chet recalled that every one of the Anoka County "movers and shakers" he asked to help incorporate the agency was on board from the very beginning. It took commitment from area leaders in banking, business, government, education, transportation, and social services as well as families to get Rise off the ground.

Rise opened its doors August 2, 1971, to serve four people who had intellectual and related disabilities. Volunteers helped convert a truck garage in Spring Lake Park into a production floor and offices. With several expansions over the years, it is still Rise’s administrative headquarters. 

Today Rise serves more than 3,000 people annually. We envision a progressive, supportive and collaborative environment that fosters meaningful growth and provides opportunities for people to live lives filled with purpose and pride.

"I really never dreamed Rise would take off like it did and become the agency it is today," said Chet recently. "'My Impossible Dream' came true in so many ways I couldn't have imagined! Hats off to everyone over the years who has worked so hard."

Loring died in 2002, but you can see how Chet and Gladys's love for their son lives on today through the creative and customized employment, housing, and personal growth programs Rise offers throughout the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.